Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In the heat of the night

Rarely do heat waves get experienced here in TDF (Tierra Del Fuego), the land of fires, and are seldom front page newspaper stories about temperatures soaring into the mid to high 20's (Celsius we are talking), but over the last three days, Punta Arenas and the surrounds have had some warm weather. Even for us we felt the heat compared to the normal days in this region of between 4 to 12 degrees, so our last three days of boat preparations have been done in short sleeve shirts and we even worked up a sweat.

Xplore departed Punta Arenas early night time with a smooth ripple on the waters of the Straits of Magellan. Early explorers of this region, Pringle Stokes, Fitzroy and Darwin would have rarely seen nights like this.

The team from Comapa here in Punta Arenas are used to the changing faces of TDF. Comapa is a company that has two small cruise ships of 110 passengers that ply the waters of TDF and Cape Horn, giving tourist who don’t want to bother with “flappy white sails” and doing it tough, the chance to see and experience the marvels of this region. The team on board are all part of their company’s Expedition Team, and we are in search of new and interesting locations for wild life and adventure experiences so that they can broaden their choices of landing locations for clients in the future. Yes, TDF is becoming a very popular location as people start to realize that Chile has some of the most grand and interesting landscapes of mountains, glaciers, flora and wild life in South America; so popular that Comapa have yet another larger high quality cruise ship in construction to meet continued growth.

The team from Comapa is comprised of Branko, Alvaro, Rodrigos and Victor who, along with the Xplore team of Audrey, Julia and myself, head to the northern regions of the Darwin moutain ranges. These parts of TDF are very rarely visited by anyone. The distances involved and their remoteness means that you have to have a very good reason to make the trek, hence why we are sailing all night to get to the first part where our discovery starts.

With current information from the University of Marine Biology there in Punta Arenas, we hope to be able to locate some newly found breeding colonies of seals (leopard and elephant) and bird life (black browed albatross). Along with this, the scope of permanent glaciers will hopefully mean we can locate some safe ice climbing locations for the more adventurous tourist visitor in the future.

So with fair forecasts for the next 36 hours we head to the south east. What we will find only time will tell. Stephen

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